Experiences of a Digital Mental Health Intervention from the Perspectives of Young People Recovering from First-Episode Psychosis: A Focus Group Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 May 8;20(9):5745. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20095745.


Horyzons is a digital health intervention designed to support recovery in young people receiving specialized early intervention services for first-episode psychosis (FEP). Horyzons was developed in Australia and adapted for implementation in Canada based on input from clinicians and patients (Horyzons-Canada Phase 1) and subsequently pilot-tested with 20 young people with FEP (Horyzons-Canada Phase 2).

Objective: To understand the experiences of young adults with FEP who participated in the pilot study based on focus group data.

Methods: Among the twenty individuals that accessed the intervention, nine participated across four focus groups. Three team members were involved in data management and analysis, informed by a thematic analysis approach. A coding framework was created by adapting the Phase 1 framework to current study objectives, then revised iteratively by applying it to the current data. Once the coding framework was finalized, it was systematically applied to the entire dataset.

Results: Four themes were identified: (1) Perceiving Horyzons-Canada as helpful for recovery; (2) Appreciating core intervention components (i.e., peer networking; therapeutic content; moderation) and ease of use; (3) Being unaware of its features; and (4) Expressing concerns, suggestions, and future directions.

Conclusions: Horyzons-Canada was well received, with participants wanting it to grow in scale, accessibility, and functionality.

Keywords: Horyzons; digital health innovation; e-mental health; mental health; mental health services; psychotic disorders; schizophrenia; telemedicine; virtual care; young adult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotic Disorders* / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This research was funded by Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation grant number 22402 and Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Santé grant number 32630. The funding agencies played no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, or this manuscript’s writing.